Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio showNotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - August 01, 2009 - Show Archive

“Traveling Feet” Radio Show is Now “Travelers411”; New York City Wholesaler Hotel Tax; Africa Connect; Five Star Properties in Ireland; A Guide to Killarney; The Ring of Kerry Golf Resort.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

August 1, 2009 is the first episode of “Travelers 411”. The show is identical to the format and content of “Traveling Feet” but has a new name. To listen to the archived audio for “Traveling Feet" click here. The name change is part of the re-branding initiative for the Travelers411 family of brands.

Travel Industry Attorney Alexander Anolik joins “Travelers 411” to discuss an issue of travel related taxation. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City wants to collect hotel tax on the retail value of a room from the wholesalers who are paying a wholesale rate and reselling that rate to its clients. Stephanie says that it is ultimately cheaper for a client to make a purchase from someone who buys in volume. There is a debate over whether the wholesaler (who is perhaps paying $50 USD for a $100 USD room rate) should pay tax on the lower rate they paid, on the rate in full, or the rate they sold to the customer.

Five federal courts have interpreted 16 different statues on this issue and have concluded that the wholesaler should not have to pay additional tax. New York is trying to get around this ordinance and is implementing a law that says any intermediary with a condition of occupancy has to pay tax. This results in double taxation to the travel agent who is the only person acting objectively on the consumer's behalf. 

The wholesaler is not charging their clients additional taxes but rather factors in the taxes they paid on the hypothetical $50 USD room rate. The customer may pay a total of $80 USD but if the wholesaler now has to pay tax on the full amount (hypothetically $100 USD) that would mean a tax increase for the customer as well.

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Washington Park, Albany, NY
Children Playing in the Fountain in Washington Park, Albany, NY

LuAnn Herring joins “Travelers411” to discuss Africa Connect, an organization she founded with her husband Bob Herring to help people in Africa through fostering personal relationships. LuAnn has been to Africa a total of five times since 2004. LuAnn and her family were inspired to travel to Kenya after a friend introduced them to a Kenyan who was visiting America. LuAnn states that people often view the world through a veil. Our own perception of the world is out of touch with its realities. It is not until we experience circumstances firsthand that we have can begin to understand them.

Three churches and a group of family friends sponsored the Herring family's first trip to Kenya. Africa Connect remains a community effort with a small donor base. The family pays their own airfare to get to Africa and then uses the funding that is raised towards helping children in Kitale, Kenya.

LuAnn says that it was not until the family's third trip that they actually visited the slums of Kitale. They first had to make connections with people and develop a network of trust. LuAnn says that it has been a growing process discovering how to help. A pastor had started a pre-school in the Tuwani slum that was free to the community. Kenyans have to pay for their children to go to pre-school. If a child did not go to pre-school he is barred from primary school. One man teaches a group of one hundred children. He is the head master and teacher and has no salary and no staff. LuAnn said he is an inspiration and is saving children's lives by giving the opportunity for an education.

Africa Connect's primary work is in improving the lives of children in Tuwani. They improve sanitation systems, work with the families to provide resources and give an opportunity for the children to grow and learn in a way that many would take for granted. In their most recent trip the Africa Connect team worked with the community to provide flush toilets, well water and electricity. They are now working on establishing a clinic and literacy classes.

The Lee school system in Berkshire County requires its sixth grade students to study Africa for a period. They invited the Herring family friend from Kenya to give a talk. The 6th grade class was so moved by what he had to say that they asked him if they could raise funds to be used towards a Christmas feast for children in Kenya. The fund raising was successful but the check took some time getting approved and cleared by the local government in Kenya. By the time the money was available for use it was Easter and the Africa Connect team was there to give the children a chicken dinner. The children rarely get to eat meat.

Stephanie looks over a booklet from Africa Connect called “Documents and information: who we are and what we're doing”. There is a picture of a group of children at the Tuwani learning center. Stephanie says that clearly something good is happening. LuAnn says in the last trip they made serious inroads into the community but there is much more work to be done.

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Guests Include:

LuAnn Herring, Co-founder, Africa Connect.

Alexander Anolik, Travel Industry Attorney and Author, “Travelers' Rights”.

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Stephanie recently heard a story on the news about a traveler stopped at an airport with electronic equipment. The man was innocent of any illegal activity and eventually let go by authorities but this part of the story was not reported on until the end of the media cycle. Stephanie says that this should not have made national news and gives a bad name to travel.

Dromoland Castle Place Setting
Dromoland Castle Place Setting.

Tourism Ireland sent Stephanie an email informing her about a new website that promotes upscale hotels in Ireland, Two of the properties are in Dublin, the Fitzwilliam and the Dylan. Also included are hotels that have been discussed in recent radio broadcasts, the ‘g' Hotel in Galway and the Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate in County Clare. The last two properties in the collection are Ashford Castle in County Mayo and the Castlemartyr Resort in County Cork.  The latter property is one Stephanie is not yet familiar with and confirms her suspicion that there is always something new to discover in Ireland.

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Caheranane House Hotel
Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney, Ireland.

Irish radio personality and Killarney tourism advocate, Frank Lewis joins “Travelers411” to discuss Killarney attractions. Lewis worked with the regional tourism organization in Killarney some years ago and now is a trustee of the town's famous Muckross House as well as a council member for the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce.

Muckross House Gardens and Traditional Farms is an extensive estate open to the public for touring. Henry Arthur Herbert, a Member for Parliament for Kerry between 1806 and 1813 built the original Muckross House. His grandson, also Henry Arthur Herbert, built the present day Muckross House in 1843. Henry Arthur the younger was also a Member of Parliament for Kerry. There have been a total of four editions of the property.

Stephanie visited Muckross House when visiting Killarney and learned about Henry Arthur Herbert the younger. She saw an interesting portrait while staying overnight at the 17th century Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney, formerly the Residence of the Herbert Family, the Earls of Pembroke. Stephanie had the proprietors take the interesting portrait off the wall to see what was inscribed on its back. As would be expected the portrait was of a Herbert. She thought it looked very similar to David Butler a University Professor she interviewed from Cork.

David Butler from Cork
David Butler and Potrait of a Herbert from Cahernane House Hotel.

Henry Arthur Herbert's wife Mary Balfour was the aunt of Arthur Balfour who served as the Prime Minster of the UK from 1902 to 1905. The Muckross House's had extensive improvements made on it in the 1850's in preparation for a visit by Queen Victoria. The queen visited in 1861 and did enormous things to publicize tourism in Killarney.

Muckross House has a sister estate in Woodside, California, Filoli House and Gardens. Artwork for Muckross House hangs there and the trees planted on the property are also taken from the Muckross grounds.

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The Ring of Kerry Golf Course, found along the Iveragh Peninsula, is a challenging course with spectacular views. The course lowered its rates this past season due to the instability of the market. It was the first course to do so in Ireland but many other courses in the southwest region have since followed suit. A round of golf on the 18-hole championship course now costs € 60 euros ($ 86.5 USD).

The course was built on sand and as such has a links effect though it is not a links course. It does have fantastic views of the bay. Golfers can obtain a package deal through Peninsula Pass which combines three courses that surround the Iveragh (Ring of Kerry) Peninsula. The other two courses are Skellig Bay Golf Club and Dooks Golf Club. The latter is a links course on the north side of the peninsula. The pass offers a great way to travel the peninsula and play golf.

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The annual Milwaukee Irish Fest, the world's largest Irish festival, is taking place August 13th through August 16, 2009. It is a celebration of Irish culture, music and history with contributions by Irish, Irish-American and Celtic entertainers. The waterfront venue of the festival is within easy walking distance of the prestigious Pfister Hotel. Stephanie refers to the Pfister as a posh kind of “grand-dame” hotel reminiscent of properties found in London and Paris.

Joe Kurth is offering “friends and fans” of Stephanie Abrams a special room rate at the Pfister during Irish Fest. The nightly rate is $159 USD not including taxes. Stephanie will be broadcasting live from the lobby of the hotel during the festival weekend.

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Fun Facts:

Confiscated items by airport security in California after 9/11 include:

Knives: pocket knives, box cutters, a cheese knife
Lighters: gun-shaped, cell phone-shaped, woman-shaped
Scissors: pinking shears, garden clippers, plastic scissors
Guns: squirt guns, cap guns, gun-shaped belt buckle
Grooming items: fingernail clippers, tweezers, metal brushes
Miscellaneous: deer antlers, reflex hammers, handcuffs, fishing hooks, needle-nosed pliers

Killarney (Cill Airne) means the “Church of Airne”. Airne means “sloe” a deciduous shrub with blackish bark native to Europe.

With the exception of Dublin, there are more hotel beds in Killarney than in any other Irish town or city.

The American prime time 1980's television soap opera “Dynasty” was filmed at Muckross House' Californian sister house, Filoli House and Gardens.

Killarney National Park is located beside the town of Killarney. It was Ireland's first national park and was created when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish state in 1932.

The Herbert family encountered financial difficulties that resulted in their having to sell Muckross House. It is thought that these difficulties were partly the result of the large monetary investment it took to improve the house in preparation for Queen Victoria's 1861 visit.

Killarney was the inspiration for William Butler Yeats poem “Sailing to Byzantium”.

Guests Include:

Frank Lewis, Publisher, "Guide Killarney". Radio Personality, "The Saturday Supplement with Frank Lewis", Ireland.

Jim O'Shea, Marketing Manager and Director of Operations, Ring Of Kerry Golf Club, Kerry, Ireland.

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